The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 12, 2013

Our View: Gun filibuster by senators was bad form

The Free Press

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There are 31 people in the U.S. Senate charged with representing their state who said last week they would rather not discuss the biggest public safety issue facing our country in decades. They would rather not discuss ideas for reducing gun violence.

Those 31 senators voted to filibuster a bipartisan desire of their colleagues to debate changes to gun laws, mostly proposals that would expand background checks making it more difficult for criminals to get guns. Fortunately, these obstructionist senators -- 29 Republicans and two Democrats -- lost. Voting in favor of debating the bills were 53 Democrats and 15 Republicans.

But we should remember this vote was not a vote on any of the  proposals. It was a vote to hear the proposals and to debate the proposals. Amendments were going to be allowed once debate started, so these filibustering senators had no logical or legitimate reason to stop the debate from going forward.

Their attempt to quash this debate was unconscionable. There are senators from both parties and we offer their names to allow voters a chance to hold them accountable for this very troubling vote.

John Barrasso, R-Wyo.,  Mark Begich, D-Alaska.,  Roy Blunt, R-Mo.,  John Boozman, R-Ark., Daniel Coats, R-Ind., Thad Cochran, R-Miss., John Cornyn, R-Texas,  Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, James Inhofe, R-Okla., Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Rand Paul, R-Ky., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Mark Pryor, D-Ark., James Risch, R-Idaho, Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Tim Scott, R-S.C., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Richard Shelby, R-Ala., John Thune, R-S.D., David Vitter, R-La.

The electronic version of this editorial comment at contains contact and e-mail information for these senators.

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Thatcher leaves a profound legacy

To the legacy of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose courage and conviction in the face of persistent criticism in the 1980s turned an England careening toward weakness and irrelevancy toward economic recovery and confidence. Thatcher died Monday at the age of 87.

Even at her death, the "Iron Lady" was despised by some of her countrymen. But her accomplishments were profound. Whereas Winston Churchill rescued the British people from fear during the World War II years, Thatcher rescued them from economic paralysis a generation later.

Courageous leaders are hard to come by these days. Britain would do well to find another Thatcher.

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Dayton's town hall

To Gov. Mark Dayton's town hall meeting in North Mankato last week.

When governors venture out, particularly to Greater Minnesota, the events are often choreographed tours, meeting with selected local leaders, capped with a press conference.

But when Dayton went to South Central College in North Mankato he invited anyone from the public who wanted to come and 200 did.

For 90 minutes Minnesota Dayton took a wide variety of questions, from his views on frac sand mining moratoriums to highway funding. The governor answered honestly, sometimes agreeing with people and sometimes challenging their views.

It was a good, old-fashioned, democratic exchange of ideas and an opportunity for regular citizens to have face-to-face contact with the head of the state.

We hope he makes it a regular routine.